scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Facing Points

Making stations a bit more user-friendly.

Those of us who are old enough can remember long distance trains with dining cars, linen cloths and silver service. In those days stations were staffed and cheerful; waiting rooms were clean and in winter had welcoming fires. Nowadays very few are staffed and (with a few exceptions) look more or less rundown. Indeed a casual visitor might assume from the air of neglect pervading some of our stations that the railway was shortly due to close down. Never let it be said! But could we brighten things up?

The prime purpose of FoFNL is to support our line. One practical way of doing this, for those living near enough and with just a little bit of spare time, would be to expend a bit of TLC on their local station. A few already do this, and it makes a world of difference. There is always something one can do - clear up some of the litter (some folk just don't see litter bins!), pull up a few weeds, clear away areas of moss where they could become dangerous; better still take one or more of the regularly sad, damp flower beds in hand, weed them and just put in a few flowering plants to cheer the place up; almost everyone has a few cuttings to spare. An occasional forking over will readily keep them in good condition. Generally just tidy up, so that our platforms seem ready to welcome those of all ages using them.

Anything more drastic would probably need specific permission in advance from ScotRail or Network Rail. But members and their friends - perhaps with a little inexpensive help from the local Community Council - could readily accomplish quite a difference without resorting to such formalities.

Most of what FoFNL does achieve is of necessity by a somewhat prolonged process of advocacy, pleading and negotiation, but tidying and brightening up our stations is something quick and virtually cost free. In these straightened times we are lucky to have a railway service, and so amiably offered; maybe our role as members is to encourage its wider and growing use by making it as additionally attractive as we can.

To my mind such simple self-help is the least we can attempt as a matter of local self-respect. Certainly it is more effective and dignified than waiting for 'them' to magically find funding for whatever it is we are after, or merely whingeing and sitting around with a battered begging bowl outstretched!

Keith Tyler